Rethinking the way the Conservatory gives credit

Renee Sogueco, ‘Doah Staff Writer
December 4, 2013

Shenandoah University offers six different programs with a plethora of majors and classes. For students, these classes count in credits towards their degrees. Course credits in universities depend on the amount of workload and instruction hours students have with the professors. Because of this, conservatory students occasionally bring up the issue of their course credits. In the conservatory, students have shorter class times, but this is made up with practice, rehearsals and homework. With smaller credit hours, they pack their schedules with more than 10 classes most times. Each student tends to go from early in the morning to late in the evening.

“Conservatory students schedules are filled with one and two credit classes that often have as much work as regular three credit classes,” says Alex Haley, a music production and recording technology major with an emphasis in jazz guitar. “I think they should reevaluate how much time and work each class has and come up with more accurate credit hours, especially lessons.”

In the music production degree, students must take a class called recording practicum, which requires time outside of the classroom. They must record a certain amount of concerts each semester, and sessions usually last for four hours at the least. After the recording, they will need to edit afterwards so that they can present them in class. The class lecture itself is more than an hour and is only considered two credits. At Middle Tennessee State University, recording students are paid for recording concerts.

“It’s difficult… The more credits, the more work outside you have to do. Dance classes, in particular, are one credit. And then also, getting credits for production is harder for some students. I feel like, the one credit courses, you put just as much effort as you do into three credit courses,” observes Alex Barrett, a scenic and lighting design major.

Outside of the conservatory, students in other programs usually have three-credit courses amount to a maximum of six courses each semester. Usually the work associated with these classes requires bookwork and group and individual projects. The work associated with conservatory classes comes with long practice hours on at least two instruments. Each conservatory student majors in one instrument and minors in another instrument.

Hours are spent practicing for juries, auditions, recitals, plays, musicals and concerts. There are also lecture classes such as music theory and history of western music that require time outside of class. While calculus is four credits, music theory is only two and it is said to be equivalent to the workload in a calculus class. A different set of skills is required for these lecture classes, yet they are treated at a lower amount.

“You’re paying way more for way fewer credits. … They do get more scholarships than Arts and Sciences, which sucks,” lamented Catherine Floyd, a mass communications major with a minor in political science.

The question of equality in each Shenandoah University program has come up. Since conservatory students have so much work, they are compensated with more scholarships than other students. The workload for each school requires different applications, but it may not be fair to overload particular students in order to compensate for fewer credit hours.

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